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Heavy Rains Friday and Saturday Could Mean Problems Traveling in NW Oregon

Road surfaces get slick and traveling gets tricky when rain first falls after a long dry spell

With the weekend forecast predicting heavy rains in Northwest Oregon, travelers need to be prepared for difficult conditions. Oil and grease don’t wash away during the dry season; they come to the surface when the next rain comes, which can make roads unexpectedly slick and treacherous.

“Hazards created by snow and ice are obvious but the travel hazards that come with the first rain after a long dry spell can catch you by surprise,” said Rian Windsheimer, ODOT Region Manager for the Portland area. “Roads will be slick, especially in the first few hours. Drivers and bicyclists, please slow down, give yourself extra stopping distance and please be aware of the possibly slick conditions.”

Be aware of conditions

Rain can create dangerous travel conditions with reduced visibility, reduced traction between tires and the road and less predictable handling for cars, motorcycles and bicycles. When it’s raining, be cautious and give yourself more time to get where you’re going. Also remember to:

  • Slow down. Driving through water at high speed can cause you to lose control. Lowering your speed helps you avoid sudden stops caused by disabled cars, debris and other hazards.
  • Expect road surfaces to be slick. The first few hours of rain can be the most dangerous.
  • Turn on your headlights to improve visibility. Disengage your cruise control.
  • Keep your distance. A car needs two to three times more stopping distance on wet roads.
  • Motorists and bicyclists must watch for each other: Cars won’t stop as quickly and bicycles may be harder to see. Give riders room!

Maintain your vehicle

The most common vehicle problems in wet weather involve wipers, brakes, tires and defrosters.

  • Check your wipers. Replace wiper blades regularly.
  • Make sure your defroster is functioning properly, especially if you haven’t used it in a while.
  • Check your brakes. After driving through a puddle, check that brakes are working properly by tapping them gently a few times.
  • Check your tires. Make sure tires are in good condition and are at the recommended inflation level. Tires should have at least 1/32 of an inch tread depth at any two adjacent grooves, the minimum allowable by law. Driving on over-inflated or under-inflated tires is dangerous on wet pavement.

Watch for hydroplaning conditions

Hydroplaning occurs when your front tires surf on a film of water. It can occur at speeds as low as 35 miles per hour, especially if tires are worn. If you hydroplane, ease off the gas, gently apply the brakes and steer straight ahead.

Know before you go

For updated information on highway work and current travel information throughout Oregon, visit www.TripCheck.com or call the Oregon road report at 511 or 1-800-977-6368.